“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” —Confucius
Five episodes is now in the books for The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, and insofar, the anime has remained quite close to the story presented in the manga. After the first episode, Yuki and Kyon prepare for their Christmas party in the Literature Club’s room. Haruhi herself makes an appearance, and together with Itsuki Koizumi, declare themselves honourary members of the Literature Club, livening the club’s mood up considerably. Valentines’ Day follows, and despite a rough start, Yuki manages to summon the courage to give Kyon some homemade Valentins’ Day chocolate, but Tsuruya intervenes before she can confess her love to him. This summary constitutes the first two volumes of the The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan manga; the first two volumes are quite uneventful, and even nostalgic in nature as Kyon and Nagato’s friendship grows, aided by Ryouko, Tsuruya, Mikuru and Haruhi herself. The anime is able to bring these dynamics to life, and consequently, is able to convey things through audio and visual cues that would not have been possible through the manga. Subtle hints about Yuki and Kyon’s growing relationship, as well as how Haruhi feels about all of this was already writen well within the manga, but the additional dimensions offered in the anime enable for the character’s feelings to be interpreted more readily.
While this anime might be called The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, Haruhi Suzumiya nonetheless figures greatly within the show, reintroducing the high-energy pacing that the original series had been known for. Quite similar to The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi film, a world where there is only Yuki and Kyon is one that is very peaceful, to the point of being mundane: there is no denying the impact that Haruhi has on her environment, and following her introduction, the atmosphere around The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan becomes one reminiscent of that seen in the original series. However, Haruhi’s incarnation here is one that is immediately more amicable compared to her presence in the original, and consequently, she fits right into the more casual pacing within The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan. With the entire cast now assembled, the stage is set for additional developments in the relationship between Kyon and Yuki, and given my a priori knowledge about the plot, I guarantee that those complaining about the lack of anything substantial thus far will be eating their words.
Screenshots and Commentary
- We’ll open this post by picking up where we left off last time: the Christmas party is under way in full force, and the preparations appear to be well-worth it: Yuki expresses pure joy at the turkey and proceeds to enjoy it. The choice of time in which to start this series likely was in reference to the fact that the events of The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi was set near Christmas, as well.
- The sort of fanservice present in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan has been disciplined thus far and has only been limited to one or two ill-scripted moments: on the whole, a commendable observation. I believe this is the third anime I’ve watched that is set during the Christmas season, but was watched during any time of year outside of the winter anime season.
- The second episode’s Christmas party is interspersed with flashbacks regarding Yuki’s bid to restart the literature club, and how she met Haruhi. While the manner differs from that of the original series, the net outcome is the same, with Haruhi entering the picture by episode three. This other angle of Yuki’s living room exemplifies the relatively minimalistic layout of her apartment, but compared to that seen in the movie, the lighting here is warmer and more inviting.
- Thanks to Haruhi’s words, Yuki summons up the courage to ask Kyon to join the literature club, and he accepts. This is presumably set somewhere after Kyon helps Yuki obtain her library card.
- Yuki and Kyon share a peaceful but somewhat awkward moment with one another on account of the cold winter air. I believe this is the first of Yuki’s many attempts to make her feelings known to Kyon, but as part of the comedic aspect (less comedic for the viewers who desire to see some progress, or for those who’ve actually experienced this for themselves), Yuki’s circumstances always lead her to become interrupted.
- Curious to know whether or not Kyon and Yuki are a couple, Haruhi’s question leads an embarrassed Yuki to reply that they’re “total strangers”, and Kyon in turn feels mildly stung, noting that his relationship with Yuki is that of a friend. Haruhi remarks that it would have been somewhat awkward if Yuki and Kyon had been dating. While Haruhi is still eccentric and interested in hunting for aliens, time travelers and espers, she also exercises more self-restraint relative to her incarnation in the original series.
- Kyon’s gentle, kinder side vanishes quite quickly with Haruhi, and he openly engages her in debate about Santa Claus’ existence. Some aspects from the old series, such as Kyon’s asides, make a return in a modest fashion. While providing a modicum of insight into Kyon’s character, most fans are dissatisfied with their reduced presence here. I contend that Kyon’s mannerisms here are well-suited for this particular universe, allowing him to focus his interactions on the characters, rather than the audience.
- After helping Ryouko clean up the club room following their Christmas party, Yuki wishes Kyon a happy new year. The passage of time in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is somewhat variable: the anime and manga both choose to depict specific moments, reflecting on Cesare Pavese’s quote that moments, rather than days, are what people tend to remember. I find this to be true, provided that I tend to remember my summers quite well based on their highest points.
- Ryouko agrees consents for Haruhi to join the literature club. She’s seen sporting a ponytail as per Kyon’s request from earlier, and although Yuki wonders if she should grow her hair out, Kyon remarks that Yuki is fine as she is.
- Haruhi is to The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki as Karen is to Kiniro Mosaic in that both characters have a very boisterous, energetic presence that contributes substantially towards the atmospherics in their respective anime. It’s been almost ten years since The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi aired, and in that time, Aya Hirano has had little difficulty delivering Haruhi’s lines.
- Under Ryouko’s watchful eye, Yuki prepares homemade chocolates for Kyon in preparation for Valentines’ Day. While the process itself is simple enough (gently melting conventional chocolate, remolding it into a new shape and adding sprinkles on), Yuki seems quite unable to carry even this out on her own; Yuki’s limited skills and resolve have led some to surmise that the other characters, especially Ryouko, to be (and I quote) “stealing the show”. I hardly agree: it is the unique combination of characters that lends to the dynamics seen in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, and consequently, Ryouko’s presence would not be substantial in Yuki’s absence.
- While on the hunt for the kappa, Haruhi slips and nearly falls into the river, but Kyon saves her at the last second. Those unfamiliar with the manga might immediately be inclined to think that Haurhi and Kyon are a possibility with respect to being a couple, and some have even claimed (erroneously) that Yuki and Kyon do not seem to be compatible as a couple, although given that this is from the forums at tango-victor-tango, it’s unsurprising that those throwing these claims around cannot adequately support their own positions.
- Whenever she gets nervous, Yuki tends to pick up her handheld gaming device (either a PlayStation Portable or PlayStation Vita) and promptly loses track of time. This here moment is one instance of where chibi characters occupy the same scene as ordinary characters to decisively illustrate that this is a romance comedy. From a personal perspective, I always keep my eye on the clock when gaming, and usually, I’ll call it quits after a fixed amount of time, I finish a section of the game, or die too frequently.
- Mikuru and Yuki share a few moments together at lunch, discussing Valentines’ Day and the prospect of giving/receiving chocolate from someone special. Things are initially awkward, as the two eat in silence: Yuki is used to such and has no trouble, while Mikuru is accustomed to conversation. I’m quite okay with either, and although I spend most of my lunch hours at my desk, I do occasionally eat out and spend lunch with friends.
- The pacing in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is somewhat erratic in the fifth episode, contrasting the solid pacing of the previous episodes. After leaving in haste when seeing Haruhi hand chocolate to Kyon, Ryouko jumps to conclusions and spends a fair portion of the episode’s opening yelling at Haruhi before bursting into tears. Drama aspects are present, and the emotions that were conveyed here do a better job than the manga did.
- The misunderstanding is soon cleared up, and Yuki appears to be quite unawares that she’d dropped her chocolates for Kyon. Ryouko and Haruhi set off to allow Nagato some privacy to give her chocolates (and also expect a confession to occur) shortly after. I’ve opted to go with a “after five” approach, since there isn’t much that I can discuss for a series with sixteen episodes: I believe that twenty screenshots will be sufficient for discussions.
- Kyon’s predisposition to humour means that, like everyone else, I find that his incarnation in this universe to be superior to his original characterisation. He supposes that Yuki’s embarrassment must stem from the presence of a “fixed” chocolate amongst her chocolates, and is expecting something spicy. When it’s clear that this isn’t the case, he mentions that the chocolates are quite good, to Yuki’s relief.
- While Yuki overheats from embarrassment at the prospect of her next move of confessing her love Kyon, the episode’s release on Friday was in conjunction with my finally succeeding in setting up the lab’s mid-2009 Mac Pro to work with the Unreal Engine editor: over the past week, I’ve been quite busy with configuring my new workstation, replacing its Quadro FX 4800 with an ATI 5870. From a performance perspective, it’s got more than enough hardware to properly run Unreal, but nonetheless was averaging only 10 FPS. It turns out that Mac OS X is intrinsically unsuited for running Unreal, so I picked up a copy of Windows 8.1 and set the machine up for dual-booting. After this was done, I spent the remainder of the morning introducing the new undergraduate researchers to the lab, and attended a seminar a friend was presenting.
- As the fifth episode draws to a close, Haruhi reminisces about the time when she’d first met someone called John Smith, not realising it was Kyon and under skies that evoke memories of “Bouken Desho Desho?”, one of my favourite opening songs of all time, which also includes Angel Beats‘ “My Soul, Your Beats” and Glasslip‘s “Natsu no Hi to Kimi no Koe”.
- That’s pretty much it for this post: I’ll be returning to The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan in June after the tenth episode has aired. For now, a slew of posts, including a talk on Gundam Build Fighters Try‘s finale, Deer Hunter 2014‘s brand-new regions, Terror in Resonance and RWBY, await. These will come after my initial impressions of Wolfenstein: The New Order.
Looking ahead, the next five episodes will deal predominantly with volumes three and four (maybe five, as well). This arc will follow Yuki and company as they study for exams, visit the beach, and deal with some rather unexpected events (which I will not spoil for those who’ve not read the manga). The last arc will disrupt the status quo to some extent, and given that the events following up to it are relatively uneventful, this could come as quite a surprise to some viewers. It will be here that The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan differentiates itself from the episodes thus far, and with the additional dimensions conferred by having audio and visual elements, I look forwards to seeing how these arcs will be adapted: there could be details that really become apparent with the inclusion of components unavailable to print media, which would in turn amplify the emotional tenor present as Yuki and Kyon come to turns with their feelings for one another.